Friday, September 14, 2012

ALWAYS Buckle Your Child Correctly

It's confession time: Even car seat fanatics make mistakes. I told you about GI's mysteriously unbuckled seat belt a few weeks ago, but I have a worse one for you. What if I told you I once drove all the way home with SB totally unbuckled in his infant carrier?

There's a lesson here, folks, so listen up.

When SB was a teeny-tiny baby, I was home alone all day with him. To entertain myself, I used to go out with him to lunch, Starbucks, frozen yogurt, whatever, just to see the sunlight. I had a Snap 'n' Go frame, and I'd plop his car seat carrier into the frame and do whatever I felt like doing. This particular day, I decided to have some Chinese food. At some point during my meal, SB wanted to nurse, so I took him out of the car seat and nursed him, then put him back in. I didn't buckle him, figuring I'd remember to later. The air conditioning in the restaurant was cold, and I threw a blanket over SB so he would be comfortable.

When I finished my meal, I took SB for a nice walk around the shopping center, then got in the car and went home. I took the car seat out of the car and carried it into the house. And when I took the blanket off SB to take him out of the car seat, there he was, happily unbuckled the entire time. I had not remembered to buckle him!

The lesson here is, always buckle your baby into the car seat correctly. Immediately. Always always always. New moms, especially, are sleep-deprived. We can't rely on our memories. We're on autopilot half the time. Especially with those awfully-convenient car seat carriers, it's too easy to plop it into the car, take it out and plop it into the stroller or frame, then plop it back into the car. While we should be holding our babies whenever possible, it's too easy, also, to take the baby out to tend to him, then set him back down in the car seat and forget or delay buckling.

It was terrifying when it happened to me. What if that was the one time I was in a car accident, a mile from home? Or, what if he had fallen out while I was carrying the car seat from the car to the house? Or what if the stroller frame had tipped or run off the edge of the curb while he was in it? So many things could have happened that could have caused him to be seriously hurt, just because I thought I would buckle him later. Thank G-d, THANK G-D, nothing happened. He was fine. I was fine. But I learned my lesson, and I'm just grateful I didn't have to learn it the hard way. I'm thankful SB didn't have to pay any price for my negligence.

I'm nosy when it comes to car seats (and babies), and I tend to glance into every car seat carrier I see, both to get a glimpse of a cute baby and to see how that cute baby is buckled. More often than not, the baby is not buckled correctly. Indeed, it is so rare that I see a correctly-buckled car seat that I comment ecstatically every time I see one. Sometimes, I decide to give the parents the benefit of the doubt, that maybe they loosened the straps for the baby's comfort while they're out of the car and they'll re-tighten when they get back in the car. Or maybe they had to take the baby out to tend her and didn't finish the buckling process when they put her back in. But, I'm sure that most of the time, the baby went from car to stroller or shopping cart and will go back into the car without any change in buckling status.

I don't say anything. First of all, despite my knowledge, I am not a certified expert, so I'd just be coming from a place of mom-to-parent advice. Occasionally, I've been in a situation where I feel comfortable saying something, and the reaction is usually, "Oh, thank you for telling me. I had no idea!" But these were not perfect strangers. So, I write this blog, because I want parents to understand how to correctly use their car seats, and, more than that, why they should correctly use their car seats. Look, we can't keep our kids 100% safe 100% of the time. Just being in the car on the road has risks. But aren't we always in the business of reducing risk whenever or however we can? Most of us don't intentionally expose our kids to danger, and, if we do, it's usually in a controlled circumstance, such as teaching them to swim or hunt or climb a jungle gym. I would hate to see a baby get hurt because her parents didn't know to pull that little strap and tighten up her car seat harness. Something so simple shouldn't be neglected.

By the way, a pet peeve of mine is car seats propped on top of shopping carts - this is dangerous. Car seats were not meant to fit with carts. There is no strap to hold them on, and they don't sit on there snugly. The cart can tip, or the car seat can fall if the cart is bumped, and the baby can be injured - especially if they aren't buckled! You make the decision yourself if you want to perch the car seat like that, but I always prefer to put the car seat into the basket of the cart for safety, or wear the baby on my body so I can put groceries in the cart.

No comments:

Post a Comment